20,000 or more visitors are expected to attend this weekend’s International London Tattoo Convention at Tobacco Dock in Wapping. The halls of the warehouse have become a fantastical world of tattoo parlours, tattoo museums, fashion boutiques, a rockabilly club and performance stages.
And I have been lucky enough to film and report the action for Zeitgeist magazine…
Friday 23 September – Day one of filming
It is easy to spot the convention goers from the moment we arrive at Shadwell station, a trilby, a pin-up style head scarf…and of course lots of beautifully decorated skin – wonderfully out of context on the streets of Shadwell. I wait for the rest of the film crew to arrive (the boys from Papercut Pictures and Olivia Snape) with a cup of coffee and a cheese toastie, and wonder what the day will hold.
Thinking we are organised, we arrive at the gates at 10.30am ready to get inside and start arranging film times. We are clearly not as eager as a lot of art enthusiasts and a queue is steadily building outside the main gates. I am in awe, amazed by the inkings and body modifications that adorn the skin of these art collectors.
Even though the convention is not yet open, when we get inside there is already a buzz as the artists set up their equipment for a day of tattooing. We have a list of the artists we need to see and arrange suitable times in their busy schedules for them to speak to us on camera about their particular take on the art form. From traditional Samoan done by hand, to antique victoriana and old-school American.
Many of the artists have travelled the world to work at the convention and while it can be easy to put ‘tattoos’ in one category, the convention truly illustrates the variety of styles and traditions in the history of the art form, as they are all there to see in the maze of Tobacco Dock.
Our first day of filming was stressful, but amazing and we spoke to some of the world’s leading tatooers: Pili Mo’o, Ryan from Scapegoat tattoo, Jo Harrison, Steve Vinall and Michelle and Amanda from Daredevil tattoo NYC.
I won’t tell you what they had to say though, as the short films will be on Zeitgeist very soon. I can’t wait to go back today and speak to some more artists, including Uncle Allan (who I LOVE!) let’s hope he gives me a sneaky tattoo while I interview him.
I feel extremely honoured to be shortlisted for a Cosmo Blog Award, in the Lifestyle section.
I have been writing about tattoos for a number of years now and I would love to see an alternative blog, such as Th’ink, be a winner in a fashion-dominated world.
As tattoos gain increasing currency in contemporary culture, my blog mimics the chic aspirations of girls just like me. Those who use tattoos as a way of expressing themselves, but are not necessarily completely covered, and see the beauty of the art from and the sub-cultures surrounding it.
Tattoos are becoming more fashionable, I am here to make sure people get good tattoos and think before they ink themselves for life. If you have read my blog, enjoyed it and agree with the messages I stand for, please vote for Th’ink and help me put good tattoo art in the heart of fashion culture.
I spotted this lovely lady in Topshop the other day, she is definitely my new tattoo crush, plus it turns out that we want to get tattooed by lots of the same people! Check out her beautiful ink…
Feature girl: Sylwia Swiderska Location: live in London, from Poland Occupation: student, Events, Music and Media Management at London Metropolitan University
What got you into tattoos and what was your first tattoo? I don’t think there was a particular event or situation that got me into tattoos, but I’ve always been really into music. People within the genre I was into had tattoos, so I guess that’s what started it all. My first tattoo was ‘Stay Young’ on my wrist.
Are you planning any more tattoos?
I’m definitely planning on getting more stuff done, I’ve got a long list of artists that I would like to get tattooed by, but being a student money is always an issue.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
At first I wanted my tattoos to have meanings, so I guess I went for imagery that represented certain statements. But as I got more into tattoos and started digging deeper into the art and history of it, especially old school style, I started going for images that appeal to me on an aesthetic level. Stuff like vintage flash is something I find most inspirational, it is timeless and will not have that awful ‘hipster’ tattoo feel 20 years down the line.
How would you describe your style?
I wouldn’t like to think that I fit onto any specific style shelf. As long as something appeals to me visually or on some other level then I try and work into my wardrobe/lifestyle.
Do you have a favourite tattoo?
I think my favourite is the scales on my inner arm, the inspiration came from a song called ‘Sweet#Hart’ by Closure in Moscow. It’s about balancing out, thinking with your head and thinking with your heart, which is something I’m awful at so it’s a constant reminder not to let one outweigh the other.
Do any of your tattoos have meanings?
As I mentioned earlier the scales have a pretty srong meaning. Girl with the mirror is a reminder to never judge people on their looks. ‘Stay Young’ is pretty self explanatory. ‘Let Hate Save You’, on my foot from a song by Emarosa is there as a reminder that if anything or anyone ever lets you down you might aswell hate it instead of letting it get to you (this last one makes me sound awful haha).
Beautiful tattoos and a very interesting interview. Lovely to meet you Sylwia and I LOVE your tattoos.
The seventh International London Tattoo Convention, now the most important and crowded convention in the world, will be held over the weekend of September 23/24/25 (NEXT WEEKEND, CANNOT WAIT) at Tobacco Dock. This year, the organisers are opening up even more areas, rooms and attractions than ever before, to meet the public’s inexorably increasing interest in body art.
What do you do?
I run a vintage stall called Clash Dolly on Brick Lane Market, I also do freelance styling.
What got you into tattoos and what was your first tattoo?
I looked at heavily tattooed people and really liked what I saw. I always knew I wanted a big tattoo, but just wasn’t sure what I wanted and wasn’t brave enough. So to start with I got some little tattoos, which have now been covered over, thank god. My first big piece was the mermaid on my back.
What inspires you?
Street art and street style, I love clashing different cultures and styles, I think this inspiration comes from growing up in London. I love mixing Indian style clothes and accessories with ’90s street style.
In terms of tattoo inspiration I liked the war-time pictures in my Nan’s house and images of ladies, haha, I like women.
Who would you like to get tattooed by? Saira Hunjan, I love her Indian style.
Have you got anything else planned?
I think I want a different style from my other tattoos, maybe some henna-style tattoos on my legs and feet. I love clashing different styles in clothing and this carries through to my tattoo style too. I really like dot work, e.g. Xed LeHead.
Do your tattoos have meanings?
They do to me, but it’s hard to explain them in words, I like to keep things to myself. People don’t always get it and it’s nice little feeling for me, I’ll let other people take what they want from them.